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Miscommunication in Overcrowded Emergency Rooms

Date Added: February 20, 2010 09:00:01 PM
Author: Administrator
Category: Lawyers: US Attorneys: Indiana

Miscommunication in Overcrowded Emergency Rooms

Author: Patricia Woloch


When there is an emergency and a life is at risk, where is the first place a person will seek help? Emergency rooms are where people go in hopes of having a life saved. Many common medical emergencies are often reversible and treatable, as long as the patient is given the correct treatment. Also, in many visits to the ER, time is of the essence and being refused immediate treatment can be life-threatening.

Overcrowded ERs can lead to detrimental communication errors, resulting many times in death. If you are a doctor, an emergency room is one of the most difficult places to work. It is extremely high stress and fast paced. Recently statistics show that in the state of Arizona, there are around 1.5 million people visiting the ER every year. If you have ever visited an ER, you can probably see why serious mistakes happen. But that doesn’t excuse those mistakes which often lead to serious injury or death. Every year in the US, there are close to 225,000 patients who die from medical malpractice. Almost half of these deaths occur from errors in the emergency room.

The Most Common ER Mistakes

The most common mistakes that take place in the ER are:

· The staff’s failure to diagnose a serious illness

· A doctor’s misdiagnosis of the patient’s condition or illness

· The staff administering the wrong treatment plan to the patient

· Medical staff who give the wrong dosage or medication to the patient

Failure to Diagnose a Serious Illness

Many conditions that warrant a trip to the ER are life-threatening and require immediate assistance to keep the patient from dying. Some of the most common illnesses that tend to be overlooked by medical staff are stokes, heart attacks, serious bacterial infections, aneurisms, and appendicitis. Many times, the staff might send these patients home without properly examining or treating them. In these cases, the patient will most likely end up passing away due to the negligence of the ER.

Misdiagnosis of a Patient’s Condition

Sometimes, in an overcrowded ER, you are lucky to even see a doctor, yet what happens when you do and that doctor completely misdiagnoses your condition. Just like the conditions that sometimes fail to be diagnosed, people often receive a misdiagnosis for conditions including strokes, heart attacks, infections, even cancer. In a study by Heath Grades, Inc., they found that between twenty and forty percent of patients in emergency rooms are misdiagnosed by their doctors.

Though many trips to the ER are due to life-threatening illness, there are occasions where the condition might not be fatal, but miscommunication among staff could lead to further injury or the death of a patient. Perhaps there is a mix-up with the patient’s labs. If this mistake happens, the patient could be misdiagnosed. Also, patients are often misdiagnosed when the hospital neglects to run the appropriate tests on the patient to diagnose their condition.

Administering Incorrect Treatment Plan

Perhaps you have been diagnosed by a doctor, but now you have been put on the wrong treatment plan due to a lack of communication between the doctor and staff. This mistake could happen as a result of the emergency room staff’s negligence in running the appropriate tests needed to diagnose the condition, getting the lab results mixed up with another patient’s, or sometime it is simply the failure to follow the doctor’s orders.

Administering Incorrect Medication or Dosage

One very common mistake that happens in hospitals and ERs involve prescription errors. These errors happen more often that people may realize. According to a study that was done by the National Center for Health Statistics, every year, there are over one billion prescriptions written for patients in the US. Studies indicate that close to one million injuries occur due to various prescription errors. Many of these errors can occur in emergency rooms due to miscommunication or negligence.

Common examples of prescription errors include:

· The doctor prescribing the wrong medication for the condition

· The doctor prescribing the wrong dosage for the patient’s condition

· Negative drug interaction with the patient’s current medications

· The pharmacist filling the wrong prescription

· Hurried pharmacists filling a prescription with wrong medication or dosage

· A pharmacists giving incorrect instructions to the patient on how to take the medication

All of these negligent mistakes can have life-threatening consequences.

Emergency room errors happen more often that the public would like to think and they are not often talked about or reported on by the media.

Article Source: Link

About the Author

If you or a loved one has fallen victim to an emergency room error in the Phoenix, Arizona area, please contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Snyder & Wenner.

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